Jason Kokrak simply heated up when the other leaders cooled off.
The 36-year-old Kokrak birdied four straight holes on the back nine on his way to a 5-under-par 65 and claimed a two-stroke victory over Scottie Scheffler and Kevin Tway in the 74th edition of what is now the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston.
“That back nine was amazing, are you kidding me?” said Kokrak who claimed his third PGA Tour victory, all in a little more than a year. “I was playing well on the front side, but just barely missing some putts, and on the back nine they just started going into the hole.
“This is very special because I was really struggling at the beginning of the week and when I came back to finish the second round in the morning after the rain delay, it was very cold and I didn’t play very well.
“But I talked with my coach on the phone and we figured some things out. I’m just blessed to be here right now.”
Kokrak, who also won the 2020 CJ Cup and the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge, barely made the cut at 68-71 and was 10 strokes behind after two rounds before finishing with 66-65 to post a score of 10-under 270.
Third-round leader Scheffler, seeking his first PGA Tour victory, held a two-stroke lead late on the front nine in the final round before making three bogeys on the first five holes of the back en route to a 69, while Tway sank a 16-foot birdie putt on the last hole to cap a 68.
Kramer Hickock made two late birdies in a 69 and was three shots back in fourth, while Joel Dahmen birdied four holes on the back nine in a 65 and was one more down in a tie for fifth with second-round leader Martin Trainer of Palo Alto and USC, who slipped back with two late bogeys for a 70.
Robert Streb birdied two of the last four holes in a bogey-free 65 and was five strokes behind in a tie for seventh with 18th-ranked Sam Burns, who slid to a 67 with a double-bogey 6 on the final hole, Cameron Tringale of Mission Viejo, who had a 68, and Russell Henley, the 2017 Houston Open champion, who came in at 70.
Cameron Smith of Australia, ranked 22nd in the world, birdied the last two holes for a 69 to tie for 15th, while 24th-ranked Sungjae Im of South Korea shot 67 and finished in a tie for 19th that included first-round co-leader Mark Leishman of Australia, who closed with a 72, and 23rd-ranked Patrick Reed struggled to a 77 and tied for 61st.
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